Oct 7, 2015 11:35 PM

Landrigan: NH Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern is first Democrat to jump in for governor


MANCHESTER - Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern becomes the first, declared Democratic candidate for governor vowing to work to keep young people and startup businesses remaining in the state.

Van Ostern, 36, makes it official at a roundtable Thursday morning with business and education leaders at Silvertech, a technology firm located in the historic Ash Street School.

"I'm running for Governor to build an even stronger economy and a brighter future for the people of New Hampshire - one where everyone has the opportunity to succeed," Van Ostern says according to prepared remarks NH1 News obtained Wednesday evening.

"We must keep our state moving forward in 2016 so New Hampshire will continue to be a great place to raise a family and grow a business in the coming decade - one where our kids can attend great schools, graduate from college without being crushed by debt, and find jobs with good wages.”

The move comes two days after Gov. Maggie Hassan announced she would not seek a third, two-year term in 2016 and instead will run for the US Senate seat that Nashua Republican Kelly Ayotte now holds.

Van Ostern helped launch Southern New Hampshire University's College for America, where he currently works, and he has been a champion against the rising problem of student debt.

The nonprofit school partners with employers across New Hampshire and the nation to provide thousands of students the chance to earn an accredited degree, which the vast majority do without taking on any debt at all.

Van Ostern was also a business manager at Stonyfield Yogurt and prior to that managed a consulting business to help small firms and non-profits.

He also worked at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business after he obtained an MBA there, leading business trips to India and Brussels.

"I see a future for our state that is accelerated by passenger rail from Boston to Manchester, brightened by solar panels, supported by growing small businesses, and strengthened by good access to quality health care – whether it’s birth control at Planned Parenthood or addiction treatment services at local health centers,” Van Ostern said.

"We will keep taxes low and bring forward new plans and ideas to attract and keep more young people, young families, startups and growing businesses here in our state.”

The candidate and his wife, Kristyn, live in Concord with their two sons.

"That's been my own life over the past fifteen years - I moved here for a job in my twenties, found a strong community, worked at world-class employers, fell in love with a New Hampshire girl, and we're now raising two New Hampshire boys whose future means everything to us,'' Van Ostern said.

"I love this state and I'll work hard to keep it moving forward."

Van Ostern burst on the scene politically as campaign manager for Democrat Annie Kuster’s surprisingly strong bid for Congress in 2010. Two years later, Kuster won the seat from Republican Charles Bass.

In that latter election, Van Ostern won his seat on the council to represent 49 towns from Keene to Rochester. Van Ostern raised so much money early on that the Republican incumbent Councilor Dan St. Hilaire decided not to seek re-election.

Other Democrats eying a bid for governor include Stefany Shaheen, eldest daughter of US Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, as well as State Senators Andrew Hosmer of Laconia and Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester.

Van Ostern’s colleague on the council, Newfields Republican Chris Sununu kicked off his own GOP campaign for governor on Labor Day. State Rep. Fred Edelblut, R-Wilton, is also seeking the Republican nomination.

Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro and Finance Chairman Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith, have all not ruled out running as well.

Democrats have won nine of the past, 10 elections for governor; the lone exception was in 2002 when then-Democratic Gov. Shaheen left to run for a US Senate seat.

Voters elected Rochester technology business owner Craig Benson to replace her.


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